chapter  11
20 Pages

e World of the Sand Tray and the Child on the Autism

BySpectrum JANE FERRIS RICHARDSON

Helping children on the autism spectrum to access and communicate through the language and experience of play demands ¢exibility, attunement, and acceptance on the part of the therapist.  e educators and psychologists of Reggio Emilia, Italy, have constructed an educational model that o®ers acceptance to all children. Reggio-inspired educators, and therapists, including the author, use the word languages (Malaguzzi, 1987) to connote a multiplicity of ways and materials that we can o®er children for enriching their experiences of perceiving, expressing, and communicating about the world and with others.  ey suggest that there are “100 languages” (Malaguzzi, 1987) for apprehending and reaching out toward the world, a concept as valuable for clinicians as it is for educators. No

children need this multiplicity of languages to express themselves and be heard and supported more than children on the autism spectrum.  ese children come to therapy with their own individual mix of the core challenges associated with this spectrum: diµculties with social communication and emotional regulation, sensory challenges, and a high need for supports in understanding and dealing with the world of others (McAfee, 2002; Wetherby & Prizant, 2001). Also, the therapy setting may well be the place where children on the spectrum ¨rst fully experience shared play, with its rich symbolic and a®ective meaning.